Articles  |    |  January 28, 2008

Apocalyptic AI: Religion and the Promise of Artificial Intelligence

Article by Robert M. Geraci.
Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.


Popular science publications in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) reveal a striking merger between apocalyptic religious thought and scientific research. Three major elements characterize early Jewish and Christian apocalypticism: alienation within the world, desire for the establishment of a heavenly new world, and the transformation of human beings so that they may live in that world in purified bodies. In Apocalyptic AI, these characteristics are attributed scientific authority. Apocalyptic AI advocates, frustrated by the limitations of bodily life, look forward to a virtual world inhabited by intelligent machines and human beings who have left their bodies. Having downloaded their consciousnesses into machines, human beings will possess enhanced mental abilities and, through their infinite replicability, immortality.

About the Author

Robert M. Geraci is a associate professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, Riverdale, New York. He is the Principal Investigator for a National Science Foundation EAGER grant studying meaningful and transcendent experiences in virtual worlds, and received a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Scholar grant to study the intersection of religion and artificial intelligence at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (2012-2013). He is the author of the Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality published by Oxford University Press.